Claim Social Security Too Early? There Are Still Ways to Increase Your Income

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Americans can claim Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but that’s not always the best option. The longer you wait to collect, the higher your Social Security payment when you do decide to collect. For example, on average your payment would be 30% less if you do not wait until age 67 to collect, instead collecting at age 62.

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Seniors elect to claim benefits early for a variety of reasons, ranging from needing the income immediately to wanting to invest the money for a bigger long-term payoff. But sometimes they come to regret the decision.

If you feel like you claimed Social Security too early, there are ways to increase your income to help pay unforeseen bills or finance a lifestyle change. Three options as outlined by The Motley Fool follow.

Return to Work

The main benefit of coming out of retirement to head back to the workplace is that you have another source of income that could potentially increase the average wages your Social Security benefits are based on — if you earn a higher average salary than you did in your earlier career. In this case, the higher wages you earn now will push out previous, lower-earning years, which would increase your average wage calculation and your benefits.

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One thing to keep in mind, though: If you are under your full retirement age (FRA) and earn enough money, you might end up temporarily forfeiting Social Security income, Motley Fool noted. That might not be such a bad thing, however. It basically means your benefits will be temporarily reduced or stopped in order to increase your benefits in the future.

Rescind Benefits Claim

You can do this if it has been less than a year since you filed for Social Security benefits. What it means is that you will pay back all the benefits that were paid out following your initial claim, which lets you start over again with the option of claiming higher benefits at a later age. Of course, this option is only feasible if you have enough money to repay the initial benefits you received.

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Suspend Benefits

If you have already reached full retirement age, you can request that your benefits be suspended. In this scenario, you would stop receiving payments either until age 70 or when you ask that they be resumed. This option lets you begin earning delayed retirement credits that will eventually increase your monthly income.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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